||Deaf American Literature
From Carnival to the Canon
Cynthia L. Pettie (Peters)
Now in Paperback!
Documenting the evolution of America Sign Language (ASL) literature from “oral” to “literary” form, Peters has produced a truly seminal work of tremendous value to a variety of readers outside the Deaf community itself: sociologists, linguists, and those in the comparative literature field. The author begins by establishing a comparison with the interplay between the populace and the feudal hierarchy in the carnival of medieval history. A prominent theme in the study is the ability of Deaf literature to cross class lines in the Deaf community, thereby empowering the minority culture. Peters establishes comparisons with a variety of mainstream literary genres, from vaudeville to the works of James Joyce and Jack Kerouac. She emphasizes the Deaf culture’s internal heterogeneity as it coexists with the common experience of the marginalized minority group member. The potential effect of the splintering of the Deaf community under the current trend toward inclusion in mainstream society is brought up as a danger to the future of the carnival environment. Specific topics treated include the oral tradition in Deaf literature, the cultural tradition of literary night, Deaf theater, written works and the effect of polyglossia on them, poetry, and the evolution of Deaf literature into a more static literary canon through videotape. Upper-division undergraduates throughprofessionals.
Cynthia L. Pettie (Peters) is a professor in the Department of English at Gallaudet University.